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‘Tis the Season for Retail Challenges. Here’s How Your Data Strategy Can Help

For retailers who take advantage of data, holiday challenges are also opportunities.

Strategy   |   Alex Gnibus   |   Nov 7, 2022

Retailers are up against a lot these days: ongoing supply chain disruptions, inflation and economic uncertainty, labor shortages, you name it. What’s the perfect storm exacerbating all these challenges at once? The holiday season.


And the 2022 holiday season is particularly challenging: nearly a third of consumers expect to spend less this season, and shoppers are back to pre-pandemic expectations for quick delivery times. But for retailers who take advantage of data, these challenges are also opportunities.


The Alteryx Analytics Automation Platform and Snowflake are a power pairing for retail insights. The Snowflake Retail Data Cloud offers solutions designed for retailers, with retail-specific datasets (including third-party data such as demographic, geospatial, and weather). Meanwhile, Alteryx helps retailers combine data sources, access easy-to-use analytics and reach insights across departments.


Read on to see how retailers can use Snowflake and Alteryx together to transform your most frustrating headaches into business growth.


The holiday headache: Consumers have pre-pandemic expectations for a post-pandemic (read: still unreliable) supply chain.

The data opportunity: Stay one step ahead with your inventory management.



Retail executives predict that consumers will prioritize stock availability over retailer loyalty in the upcoming year. Whether you’re a grocery chain managing inventory for the Thanksgiving dinner rush or a fashion retailer fulfilling a spike in Cyber Monday orders, the pressure is on to get things on the shelves and at people’s doorsteps in a time when supply chains are unpredictable.


Alteryx and Snowflake can help with inventory management, fulfillment forecasting and demand planning to take back control of your supply. By combining Snowflake’s real-time cloud data with Alteryx’s analytics and ML capabilities, retailer and manufacturer MillerKnoll was able to identify opportunities at distribution centers that improved inventory management and optimized warehouses.



The holiday headache: More customers are returning gifts – and it’s getting expensive.

The data opportunity: Reduce returns by personalizing product recommendations.



2021 saw a 10% increase over 2020 holiday returns, and it cost $33 for retailers to process a $50 return item in 2021 – a 59% increase.


According to Shopify data, consumer preferences (e.g., size, fit, style, etc.) drive most returns. And more shoppers make returns when shopping online. This means retailers have an opportunity to optimize their e-commerce experience – you don’t have to let customers settle for something that they’re likely to return.


Retailers can build analytics-driven recommendation engines with Alteryx to personalize content based on visitors’ behavior, so customers see the product information that matches their preferences in style and fit. You can also use Snowflake and Alteryx together for customer segmentation, making it easier to tailor recommendations.


The holiday headache: Inflation. Enough said.

The data opportunity: Use predictive analytics to manage an unpredictable holiday shopping season.


If you’re a retailer, you’ve already heard plenty about inflation. It impacts just about everything, from merchandise pricing, to input costs, to consumer spending attitudes.


Descriptive analytics are a good start to understanding what’s going on now. But predictive analytics can anticipate what’s next. Using predictive analytics, you can answer inflation-related questions like:


  • If I raise prices, how likely are customers to stop purchasing products?
  • How would rising fuel costs impact what we need to charge for shipping?
  • If the cost of a commodity increases, how will that affect product margins?

Retailers can build predictive models using Snowflake to organize data, and Alteryx to analyze it. For example, Sainsbury’s, one of the largest retailers in the UK, uses Snowflake and Alteryx within its Commercial Analytics team to help merchandisers and category managers improve decisions related to price elasticity, promotional effectiveness, product and offer recommendation, and assortment.



The holiday headache: Holiday promotions are crowded, and consumers are overwhelmed with ads.

The data opportunity: Get creative with external data sources to make campaigns even more timely and personalized.



Retailers need to cut through a lot of noise during the holidays. Which means you’ll have to get more creative with your targeting. Don’t just rely on internal data for effective promotional strategies. Retailers should be incorporating nontraditional, third-party data sources – from satellite imagery to weather data.
Snowflake and Alteryx make it easy to combine disparate data sources of all kinds. You can get weather data from the Snowflake Data Marketplace and combine it with location insights from Alteryx to target customers with weather-specific promotions, plan timely discounts and more. Because Alteryx lets you analyze unstructured data types like geospatial shapes, you have more freedom to get richer insights.



The holiday headache: Amid a hot talent market, retailers face a shortage in tech skills.

The data opportunity: Enable every department to access and analyze data.



Every department in a retail company can benefit from data. But retail executives expect a shortage in skilled workers for IT and analytics positions.


Retailers can reshape their talent by expanding access to self-service data tools. With its approachable drag-and-drop building blocks, Alteryx enables self-service analytics for any retail function – from sales to supply chain. At the same time, Snowflake enables self-service access to data. As IDC put it, the Snowflake and Alteryx partnership empowers users across all retail operations, “which is especially important in today’s environment, where there are ongoing skills shortages and a greater need to upskill existing workers to be able to draw data insights.”


These challenges may be top-of-mind during the holidays, but they still exist year-round. A good data strategy is the gift that keeps on giving, and with Alteryx and Snowflake, retailers can keep the holiday cheer going all year.


Tune In

Join us on Thursday, November 17, for a live webinar to see how Sainsbury’s is improving customer outcomes with retail analytics.

Additional Resources:

  • Retail and CPG
  • Analytics Leader
  • Business Leader